Leonard Weinglass in History
Len, A Lawyer in History: A Graphic Biography of Radical Attorney Leonard Weinglass
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/05/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21600
Book review of Seth Tobocman's Len, A Lawyer in History: A Graphic Biography of Radical Attorney Leonard Weinglass.
As a radical Weinglass also understood that power, not law, runs the world. If the law were rooted purely in justice rather than power, the rulers - the bankers, the purveyors of war, the CIA - would all be sitting in prison.
This was the crux of Weinglass' defense of a group of protesters prosecuted for organizing against a campus CIA recruitment drive at the University of Massachusetts in the 1980s. Citing a university policy that prohibited criminal organizations from recruiting on campus, the student activists showed how the CIA was in fact a criminal organization that fomented coups and atrocities all over the world and should therefore be banned from campus.
Weinglass employed the necessity defense, arguing that the activists' campus disruption was necessary to stop the criminal CIA. This defense allowed Weinglass and the activists to effectively "put the CIA on trial," turning the courtroom into a public damnation of the CIA's sordid record of criminal atrocities.
In other words, the state's attempt to crack down on the activists allowed them to exponentially amplify their message - and, incredibly, it worked. The jury acquitted the activists. This is radical lawyering at its finest.